Apple Makes Screen Time API Available to Third-Party Developers

With the launch of iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey, Apple is making its Screen Time API available to third-party developers, which will let official Screen Time data be used in parental control apps.

apple screen time screen icons
Apple first unveiled Screen Time in the iOS 12 update that was released in 2018, allowing users to keep track of the amount of time spent in iOS apps. Parents were also able to use Screen Time for Parental Control purposes, limiting apps and device usage.

Since launch, Screen Time has been built directly into the iPhone and no APIs or SDKs have been made available to developers prior to now, which app developers have not been happy with. That's set to change with ‌iOS 15‌. From Apple's iOS 15 features page:

Developers can use the Screen Time API in parental controls apps to support an even wider range of tools for parents. The API provides developers with key features like core restrictions and device activity monitoring, all in a way that puts privacy first.

Ahead of when Apple launched Screen Time, it started banning many parental control apps that used Mobile Device Management to let parents control iOS devices belonging to their children. The change led to antitrust issues for Apple following complaints from developers that made parental control apps.

In 2019, developers petitioned Apple to release a Screen Time API that would let them access the same functionalities that are available with the built-in Screen Time feature to level the playing field. Apple may have finally implemented the feature to ease some of the antitrust scrutiny that it is facing from lawmakers in various countries.

Related Roundups: iOS 15, iPadOS 15
Related Forum: iOS 15

Top Rated Comments

Jynto Avatar
15 weeks ago
I would say it's about damn time! Screen Time only stores a limited amount of your data (3-4 weeks) with no option to keep it for longer. Everything older than that gets automatically deleted.

I for one would like to be able to look at my long-term trends the same way as I do with Health (I know storage space may be a concern, but c'mon Apple, my Health DB is half a gigabyte!) and if Apple can't provide that option themselves, they can at least make it possible for some other app to export it as a CSV and display lovely graphs and stuff that go back multiple months.

This should have been in the first release of Screen Time.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
_Spinn_ Avatar
15 weeks ago
This should be very useful for devs. I can’t wait to see what they come up with.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheYayAreaLiving Avatar
15 weeks ago
Wonder what kind of brilliant ideas developers will come up with.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JKAussieSkater Avatar
15 weeks ago
I hope this means 3rd parties can patch the flaws Apple didn’t bother with.

* You can’t limit specific Apps to specific times of the day (e.g. No Instagram during work/school hours) — Currently you can only specify “downtime” which affects all apps simultaneously, and “downtime” itself can only be specified for 1 period a day.
* You can’t disable apps on certain days of the week (e.g. No YouTube until the weekend) — Currently you can limit the maximum use time of an app to “1 minute a day” but not zero minutes. This means a lot of essentially blocked apps aren’t shadowed on the home screen, and it’s not clear which apps are actually available without restrictions.
* You can’t restrict time or disable iMessage extensions/iMessage games.
* You can redownload apps a parent has deleted from the App Store without a parent’s permission (because it’s “already been purchased”). — This, in tandem with “cannot restrict apps to zero minutes a day” means that children can redownload all deleted games within the first minute of the next day, and those apps aren’t restricted.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iOS 15 icon mock banner

Bloomberg: iOS 15 to Bring Redesigned iPad Home Screen, Updated Lock Screen, New Notification and Privacy Options

Thursday April 22, 2021 3:56 am PDT by
Apple will introduce several new features and enhancements in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 later this year, including a redesigned Home Screen for iPad, an updated Lock Screen, and new notification preferences for users, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. From the report:Apple Inc. is readying a major revamp of its mobile software that will include an upgrade to how users handle notifications, a...
play store google

Google to Limit Which Apps Can See Other Installed Apps on Android Devices, Evoking Similar Privacy Changes Apple Made in iOS 9

Saturday April 3, 2021 3:23 am PDT by
Google will soon make it harder for third-party apps to see what other apps are installed on a user's Android device, a policy change that evokes similar privacy protections Apple introduced in iOS 9, way back in 2015. According to XDA-Developers, upcoming amendments to Google's Developer Program Policy will limit which apps can access an Android user's full list of installed apps. As noted...
app tracking transparency

Apple's Craig Federighi on App Tracking Transparency: 'Users Deserve and Need Control' of Data

Monday April 26, 2021 11:10 am PDT by
With Apple now enforcing its App Tracking Transparency rules with the release of iOS 14.5, The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern did an interview with Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi to talk about Apple's aim with the feature and how it works. For those unfamiliar with App Tracking Transparency, it requires app developers to get express user permission before accessing a...
14

Apple Seeds Seventh Betas of iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Wednesday April 7, 2021 10:04 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the seventh betas of upcoming iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 updates to developers for testing purposes, with the new beta updates coming one week after Apple released the sixth iOS and iPadOS 14.5 betas. iOS and iPadOS 14.5 can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center or over the air after the proper profile has been installed on an iPhone or iPad. iOS 14.5 is the...
app store blue banner

Apple Offered Special App Store API Access to Hulu and Other Developers

Thursday May 6, 2021 12:42 pm PDT by
Today is the fourth day of the Epic Games v. Apple legal battle, and documents shared in the trial continue to give us insight into the App Store and Apple's business practices. App Store Vice President Matt Fischer is on the stand answering questions from Apple and Epic lawyers, and one of the emails shared as evidence confirms that Apple has established special deals with major app...
generic tracking prompt green

Apple to Ban Apps That Reward Users for Enabling App Tracking

Tuesday April 27, 2021 4:04 am PDT by
Apple says that it will ban and reject apps on the App Store that attempt to offer users monetary incentives to enable tracking through App Tracking Transparency (ATT), one of many measures the company is taking to ensure developers follow through with the new framework. Yesterday the Cupertino tech giant released iOS and iPadOS 14.5 with several headlining features, including ATT. ATT is a...
14

Apple Seeds Second iOS and iPadOS 14.6 Release Candidate to Developers

Friday May 21, 2021 10:24 am PDT by
Apple today seeded second release candidate versions of iOS and iPadOS 14.6 to developers for testing purposes, with the new software coming five days after Apple seeded the first release candidates. iOS and iPadOS 14.6 can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center or over the air after the proper profile has been installed on an iPhone or iPad. iOS and iPadOS 14.6 add support for A...
iOS 14 on iPhone feature emergency

Apple Seeds Third Betas of iOS and iPadOS 14.6 to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Monday May 10, 2021 10:13 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the third betas of new iOS and iPadOS 14.6 updates to developers for testing purposes, one week after seeding the second iOS and iPadOS 14.6 updates. iOS and iPadOS 14.6 can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center or over the air after the proper profile has been installed on an iPhone or iPad. iOS and iPadOS 14.6 appear to be more minor changes focusing on...
f1623085603

Apple Announces iOS 15: First Look at New Features

Monday June 7, 2021 10:07 am PDT by
Apple today previewed iOS 15, the company's next major update for the iPhone, featuring new video calling capabilities, improvements to Messages, user statuses, a smart notification summary, and more. FaceTime In iOS 15, FaceTime features a new grid view and portrait mode support for video. For audio, FaceTime calls now offer Spatial Audio so that voices sound as if they are coming from...
14

Apple Seeds Eighth Betas of iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Tuesday April 13, 2021 10:06 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the eighth betas of upcoming iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 updates to developers for testing purposes, with the new beta updates coming one week after Apple released the seventh iOS and iPadOS 14.5 betas. iOS and iPadOS 14.5 can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center or over the air after the proper profile has been installed on an iPhone or iPad. iOS 14.5 is the...